Pilgrim Spots of Kashmir
By Prof. Chaman Lal Sapru
Glimpses of Kashmiri Culture Published
by: Shri Parmananda Research Institute (REGD.) (under the auspices of Shri
Rupa Devi Sharada Peetha Trust) Raghunath Mandir, 2/3 Bridge, Srinagar,
Sanskrit Shloka says
that almost all the pilgrimages of the World are also found in Kashmir,
such as the holy Ganga and the Prayaga.
Every Hindu considers it his duty to immerse the
ashes of his deceased ancestors in the Ganga. In Kashmir we give the same
preference to Gangabal as is given to the Ganga in holy scriptures. The
same is true about the prayaga at Allahabad where the Ganga, the Yamuna
and the invisible Saraswati meet and our Prayaga at Shadipur which is the 'Sangam' of Kashmir's two important rivers the
Vitasta, and the Sindhu.
Every Hindu who offers prayers according to Sanatana traditions, worships
God in the form of PANCHAYATAN. The Panchayatan comprises the following deities-Ganesha, Shiva, Vishnu, Devi and
Surya. We have temples and Teerthas
attributed to the above mentioned gods and also dedicated to Avatar like
Ganesha is worshipped as the Aadi Deva (The First
Deity). Ganesha is the son of Sankara or Shiva. Every Hindu starts his
worship with obeisance to Lord Ganesha. Ganesha is considered as the Siddhidata
(the, boon-giver) and Vighnaharta (destroyer of obstacles). In Srinagar
we have a prominent temple of Ganesha in the heart of the city. The temple
previously under the management of the Dharmarth Trust, is now managed
by a local managing committee. An annual festival on Vaisakha Shukla Chaturdashi
is held in the premises of the temple and a Mahayajna by the Brahman Maha
Mandal is performed on the Brahma Jayanti day. There is a legend that during
the atrocities committed by Pathan rulers, several hundred years back,
the original idol of Lord Ganesha was submerged in the Vitasta by the Pandits
to save it from desecration. During the Dogra rule the idol was reclaimed
by the devotees and installed on the Vaisaka Shukla Chaturdashi in the
This particular idol is placed in the outer temple
by the side of the Siva Lingam and two bigger and more attractive idols,
most probably donated by Dogra rulers, are also installed in the main temple.
There is another important temple of Lord Ganesha
at the foot of the hillock of Hari Parbat which every Hindu considers it
his sacred duty to go round every day. Lord Ganesha's temple is the first
amongst the shrines strewn on this hillock.
Even the holy pilgrimage to Sri Amarnathji starts
with the worship of Sri Ganesha at Ganeshabal near Pahalgam.
SANKARA OR SIVA:
There is hardly any place of Worship in Kashmir,
where you will not find a Siva Lingam. In the world-famous cave of SWAMI
AMARNATHJI an ice Lingam is formed to full size on the fifteenth of the
bright half of every month, (Poornima), hence is of reverential attraction
to the devotees of all faiths. This holy place is visited on the Shravana
Poornima every year by thousands of pilgrims from far off places. The Pilgrimage
starts from the Dashnami Akhara of Srinagar in the form of a procession.
The Mahant carries the holy silver mace of Lord Siva and is followed by
hundreds of Sadhus reaching the cave on the Shravana Poornima, which coincides
People like Aadi Shankaracharya, Swami Vivekananda
and Swami Ramtirtha have visited this place. Swami Ramtirtha has composed
beautiful verses in praise of the mysteries of the Lord. Swami Vivekananda
says to his European disciples, "The image was the Lord Himself. It was
all worship there. I never have been to anything so beautiful, so inspiring.
A beautiful stone-temple of Lord Shiva is situated
on a hill in the Srinagar city commanding a magnificent view. The temple
is managed by the Dharmartha Trust. It is believed that the first Sankaracharya
on his visit to Srinagar, meditated on this spot. Swami Vivekananda has
given the following description of the temple:- "Look ! what genius the
Hindu shows in placing his temples ! He always chooses a grand scenic effect.
See ! the temple commands the whole of Kashmir."
The snow-clad peaks round the valley bear one
or the other name of Lord Shiva You have "Mahadeva", "Harmukha", etc. Under
the Mahadeva peak in the picturesque range of Harwan, the famous Siva-Sutras
(the base of Shaiva Philosophy) were composed. Devotees visit this place
particularly on the same day on which the pilgrimage to Amarnathji is undertaken.
They also visit the following places of worship connected with Shiva on
the same day. Dhyaneshwar in Bandipur, Thajwor in Bijbehara and Harishwar
There are numerous temples of Shiva in the whole
valley. Sadashiva temple in Purushyar and Someshwar temple in Habba- Kadal
find the description in the famous histories and Puranas of Kashmir.
THE VISHNU PADA:
The only holy place connected with Lord Vishnu
in Kashmir is Vishnu-Pads or Kaunsar Naga. This is a big lake situated
at a height of more than 14,000 feet in Anantnag district. The lake is
shaped as a foot and it is believed that Lord Vishnu had placed his holy
foot in the place where the present big lake was formed.
THE DEVI ( DIVINE MOTHER ):
We have numerous places of pilgrimages attributed
to the Goddess in Kashmir of which the Kheer Bhawani, Shri Sharika Mandir,
Mahakali Mandir ( Srinagar and Vadora ), Jwala Mukhi ( Khrew ), Shailaputri (Nagabal,
Baramulla), Baladevi, Sri Vaishnodevi and Sarthal Devi (last
two in Jammu region) are well koown.
The temple of Goddess Maharajni, known as Ksheer-Bhawani,
is situated about 14 miles away from Srinagar at village Tulamula in the
famous Sindh valley. The road leading to Ksheer Bhawani has also spiritual
significance. J. Krishna Murti in his booklet "At the feet of the Master"
writes about the following four "Sadhanas" to achieve realization. They
are Viveka (Discrimination), Vairagya (renunciation), Sadachar (righteousness)
and Prema or Mumukshaa (the eternal love). While going to Ksheer Bhawani
one comes across the places bearing the same name. First we reach 'Vicharnaga.'
Vichar is synonym of 'Viveka'. Then we reach 'Tyangal-bal' (the hill of
burning charcoals) and Kavaj-var (the fire of cremation ground) and Amarher
(the immortal staircase). These two names also denote the feeling of renunciation.
The third place is Aanchar Lake, which derives its origin from Aachar (the
righteousness). After going through these places we reach the cherished
destination, the holy place of the Divine Mother and one is all love pure
and divine with the Divine Mother.
An old Sanskrit text called the 'Bringesha Samhita'
carries a chapter known as 'Rajny-Pradurbhava' and the Pauranic description
of the said Teertha is given in the said book. The demon-king of Lanka (Ravana) in order to attain unlimited power worshipped Mother
The Divine Mother, after being moved by the immense 'tapas' (penance) performed
by Ravana, bestowed upon him many boons.
Soon after, Ravana began to lead a life of luxury
and after forcibly taking away Sita, prepared himself for a battle with
Lord Rama. After watching the misbehaviour of Ravana, the Devi asked Hanumana
to take Her to Satisar (Kashmir) along with 360 Nagas.
Hanumanji installed the Devi at Tulamula village
in Kashmir Valley. Here the Devi is being remembered as 'Ksheer-Bhawani'
or Goddess Rajna. The Devi began to be worshiped with flowers and offerings
of milk and sweets only.
The Brahmins of Tulamula have been described in
Rajatarangini as full with spiritual powers.
For quite some time in the past this important
Teertha remained under flood waters and it was only after a pious Brahmin
Shri Krishna Pandit had a vision that the place was rediscovered. He was
a great devotee of the Devi and composed the famous Rajna Stotra.
A beautiful marble temple has been erected in
the centre of the 'Kunda' (spring) by Dogra rulers. This spring changes
colours and is shaped as "OM" in Sharada script. Every year an annual festival
is held on Jyeshtha Shukla Ashtami at this holy place. Swami Vivekananda
and many others have performed Tapas at this holy place and had visions.
SUN TEMPLE AT MARTAND:
Only five miles away from the town of Anantnag
is a village known as Mattan or Bhawan. In ancient scriptures the name
of this place is given as Martand (the sun). Here is a beautiful spring
and a small rivulet flowing nearby known as the Chaka. On the banks of
the Chaka thousands of devotee; from northern India perform Shradhas to
their deceased ancestors on Adhikmasa months on Vijaya Saptami. About 2.5
km. from the spring are ruins of a magnificent temple known as Martand.
The temple in Indo-Greak architectural style was built by the great emperor
The two prominent places of pilgrimages of Muslims
and Sikhs are Hazratbal and Chhatipadshahi. The Hazratbal shrine on the
Dal lake facing east is know as the second Mecca. The holy relic of Prophet
Muhammad is preserved here. The Chhati Padshahi is a Gurdwara near Hari
Parbat which had been visited by the sixth Guru of the Sikhs.
Besides the above mentioned places of pilgrimages
there are hundreds of holy places found in Kashmir. A brief description
of these places is given below:
This is the holy cave in which the ice-lingam
of Lord Siva is formed changing its size with the waning and waxing of
VETHA - VATUR
(Vitasta-tatra) : Here is the source of river Vitasta. Annual pilgrimage to this place is performed on the thirteenth
day of the dark half of the Bhadra month.
Dedicated to Divine mother, it is near Qazigund.
Annual festival on Sravana Shukla Dwadashi is
held here and devotees perform shradha of teenagers. it is situated near Shopian.
A temple in the forests is dedicated to Mother Rajna. Annual festival is held on Jyeshtha
A holy spring after which the town as well as
the district is named is famons for its crystal clear water. Annual festival
of Ananta Devata is held on the fourteenth day of the dark half of Bhadra
It is situated near Bijbihara. An old Shiva temple
is found here and the annual festival is held on Sravana Poornima.
It is situated about 4.5 kms. away from Anantnag.
Annual festival is held here and a Mahayajna
performed. It is 11 miles from Anantnag.
A temple and a spring of Goddess Uma is found
here. Annual Mahayajna is performed here.
Sri Ramakrishra Maha sammelan managed by Vivekananda
Rock Memorial Committee Kanyakumari, is situated here. An ancient spring
and a few idols of some ancient temple are found here. Annual festival
is held here on the day Chhari (Amarnath Yatra) starts. It is 3 km. away
An attractive neat and clean Ashram is found
here. During Amarnath Yatra a number of devotees visit this Ashrama and
stay and mediate for a few days.
Known also as Kaunsarnaga. It is about 14 miles
away from Aharbal fall. It is a hazardous journey.
This Teertha attributed to Goddess Jwala is situated
about 20 kms. from Srinagar in Anantnag district. A temple of Jawalaji
is situated on a hillock there. Annual festival is held on "Jwala
(fourteen day of the dark second half of Asharh).
It is near Pampore (famous for saffron, where
famous mystic Poetess Lalleshwari or Lal ded lived). Festivals are held
here on the occasions of solar and lunar eclipses.
This famous Teertha is attributed to Bala Bhagwati.
She is considered to be the 'Istadevi' (presiding deity) of the Dogra rulers,
hence the Teertha is managed by the Dharmarth Trust. This place of pilgrimage
is situated in Balahama near Pampur.
It is situated on the right bank of the Vitasta
at Baramulla. It is believed that the holy water of one crore of teerthas
reaches here through Vitasta and therefore is very sacred.
This Teertha is situated on the left bank of
the Vitasta at Baramulla. This is a miniature Ksheer-Bhawani.
A famous place of Nandakeshwar Bhairava situated
on the left bank of the Vitasta at Sopore. The annual festival is held
on Jyeshtha Amavasya here.
A place for worship of Nandakeshwar Bhairava
situated in Sumbal village. GOPHABAL: Situated near Langet, Handwara.
The Teertha attributed to Goddess Kali is situated
in a thick pine forest near Vadipora (Handwara).
Situated near Kupwara this teertha attributed
to the Divine Mother (Maharajna) is found here.
Situated in the picturesque valley of Lolab in Sogam, a Niranjani Akhara is established here.
Situated on a hillock at Baramulla. Some springs
attributed to Bhagwan Ramchandra are found here.
It (now in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) is situated
on the bank of Kishanganga famous throughout the country before partition.
This is considered as a "Siddha Peetha" like Sharika Chakreshwar temple
at Hari Parbat. It was a place of learning also and students as well as
scholars from far off places used to come here. Some monuments still exist
A beautiful Shiva temple exists on the hillock
called shankaracharya hill. Annual festival on the day of Amarnath Darshan
is held here.
A hillock in Srinagar city, it has many temples
around it. The main temple is of Goddess Sharika, the presiding deity of
Kashmir. Annual festival on the first Navratra & Ashadh Navami is held
here. This is considered as a 'Siddha Peetha'.
Twenty kilometres away from Srinagar a spring
in which a temple is constructed dedicated to Mother Rajna. Annual festival
held on Jyeshta Ashtami.
A lake situated near Harmakh peak is the most
beautiful lake of Kashmir. Annual Yatra is held on the Ganga Ashtami in
Bhadra month. People immerse the ashes of their deceased there and also
perform Shradha. The journey is most hazardous but much rewarding.
Just adjacent to Nishat garden is situated the GuptaGanga. On the Baishakhi festival devotees from all over Kashmir have
a dip in the spring here. A Shaiva Mathika is also attached to it where
Sunday classes on Shaivism were conducted by Shaivacharya Swami Lakshman Joo.
A temple attributed to Jyeshtha Devi is located
in between Shankaracharya and Chasma Shahi. A pilgrimage to this place
on thursdays of Jyeshtha is considered auspicious.
Situated in tehsil Badgam; on Ganga Ashtami day
people go there and have a dip there. It is almost a dry spring but on
this particular day at a particular hour water gushes out and devotees
have their holy bath.
Situated in tehsil Chadura near Nagam, it is
a miniature Ksheer Bhawani. Annual Mahayajna on Vaishakha Shukla Ashtami
is held here.
Situated by the side of famous Khanaqah of Shah Hamdan; it is believed that a magnificient temple of Mahakali existed here.
The annual festival is held here on Pausa Krishan Paksha Ashtami.
Dedicated to a mystic poetess Roopa Bhawani,
considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Sharika; Annual festival is
held here on Sahib-Saptami.
Situated on Srinagar-Leh Highway at a distance
of about 10 kms from Srinagar, the annual festival is held on the last
day of the Kashmiri calender i. e. Chaitra Amavasya. The famous Kashmiri
Pandit-Shirya Bhat-responsible for the change of heart of Sultan Zainulabidin,
later known as Budshah (the Great Monarch), also lived here.
It is as famous as Amarnathji or Ktheer-Bhawani
in Kashmir. Thousands of Pilgrims mostly from northern India visit this
place. Divine Mother in Vaishnavee form is being worshipped here. The main
temple is 11 kms. above Katra, a town on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
Devotees prefer to visit the shrine on Nava-Ratra Days.
It is situated in Doda district of Kishtwar.
There is a popular belief that mother Sharika (Hari Parbat) shifts during
winter to this place. There are other places of pilgrimages in Jammu region
also such a Burha Amarnath, Sudh Mahdev, etc.